Omaha Westside had quite the hole to dig out of Saturday night.
The Top 10 No. 3 Warriors didn't have their finest shooting night throughout most of the game, with Top 10 No. 9 Omaha Burke utilizing an athletic frontcourt defense and a great night at the free-throw line to build a 43-29 lead midway through the third quarter.
Westside's offense finally snapped into gear, with Kevin Metoyer and Mike Kiger steadily putting points on the board to the delight of the home crowd. Still, the Bulldogs seemed to have things under control, up 52-44 with under four minutes to play before three Burke turnovers led to points on the other end.
The Warriors rode the ensuing momentum to a 61-58 victory over their Metro Conference rival.
“Not super happy with how the game started but elated with how it finished obviously,” Westside coach Brian Nemecek said. “We gained a lot more energy and confidence in the second half, turned up the defensive intensity. I thought that was the name of the game.”
Westside pulled out the win despite trailing for most of the game due to a 12-0 Burke run in the first quarter. Metoyer scored a game-high 23 points to provide much of the Westside scoring punch, but the game's hero may have been Jake Meyers.
Kept off the scoreboard in the first three quarters, the 6-foot-1 senior made the first transition basket that sparked his team's rally before draining two free throws and intercepting a late inbounds pass to seal the victory.
Despite strong outings from sophomore forwards Noah Fant (14 points) and Wanjang Tut (nine,) Burke coach Ben Holling was left hoping his team could close out its next opportunity.
“Give them a lot of credit for battling back,” Holling said. “Our lack of composure was evident to everyone who was at the game, which was disappointing as head coach of a basketball team. You go 17 of 18 from the free throw line, I'd like us to be there. If we're strong with the ball we had a chance to seal the game multiple times.”
Though outscored by Metoyer, Burke guard Trey Carr had a steady performance, scoring 14 points, including a fadeaway buzzer beater that put his team up four at halftime.
Kiger had been limited in the first half due to foul trouble, scoring all 13 of his points in the second half. Fant and Tut had the post on lockdown in the first half, but once Westside finally started putting the ball in the hoop the perimeter opened up.
Metoyer took it from there, draining several jump shots and damaging Burke at the line.
“(Kevin's) a special player,” Nemecek said. “Very competitive tonight. I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the world or (trade) any of our players for that matter, but he's a solid player.”
Saturday's win continues a torrid stretch for the Warriors, who have now won 11 of 12. Burke, meanwhile, took its fifth loss by four points or less with Holling saying he hopes his team can learn from the experience with district play on the horizon.
“Unfortunately I think these are the kind of games you have to go through to learn from,” Holling said. “It stinks that we had to be delivered a lesson to learn from but I think that's the case and hopefully we take something from it.”
Omaha Burke (12-8) .................................................... 12 16 18 12—58
At Omaha Westside (15-5) .......................................... 4 20 12 25—61
OB: Trey Carr 14, Noah Fant 14, Wanjang Tut 9, Ryan Poppen 6, Dartan Henderson 5, Jack Dresslar 4, Jackson Abramo 3, Nick McCulloch 3
OW: Kevin Metoyer 23, Mike Kiger 13, Michael Herrmann 10, Brock Nemecek 7, Jake Meyers 4, Anthony Bratton 2, Trae Meeks 2
3-point goals: Burke 5 (Poppen 2, Abramo, Henderson, McCulloch, Westside 4 (Metoyer 2, Kiger, Nemecek).